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IONS+, supercharge your Optica conference experience

IONS started in 2008 to allow students the opportunity to build an environment where they could exchange research, hear from professionals in the field, as well as showcase and enjoy the local culture of the host university. Beginning in 2022, IONS will adopt a new model to engage, support, and advance the careers of students worldwide. IONS will now take place at Optica Congresses and partner conferences the day before the meeting.

IONS+ Vancouver

@ Optica Biophotonics Congress (April 23)
Hosted by the UVIC Optica Student Chapter

IONS+ Busan

@ Optica Advanced Photonics Congress (July 9)
Hosted by the PNU Optica Student Chapter

IONS+ Munich

@ Optica Sensing Congress (July 30)
Hosted by the TU Dresden Student Chapter

How this works

It starts with the student committee. What makes IONS unique is that students drive it. We intend to keep that spirit alive by creating student committees at each conference to build the program, designate travel funding where appropriate, and assist with marketing. This committee will consist of two student Chairs, individuals already planning on attending the Congress. Additionally, a third committee representative will represent the local student chapter. The chapter will be responsible for organizing events focused on highlighting the culture of the area and tours of university laboratories.  Additionally, an Ambassador will serve as a mentor and, in conjunction with staff, help ensure the organization of the IONS is occurring smoothly.


Student committee
  • Coordinate with Congress chairs to build the program
  • Determine speakers and content
  • Assist with marketing
  • Designate travel funding where appropriate
  • Serve as onsite leads for lecturers and student attendees
Local chapter
  • Determine social events that highlight the culture of the surrounding area
  • Orchestrate lab tours at the university and/or tours of local industry
  • Serves as mentor to assist where needed
Optica staff
  • Reserve conference space and a/v
  • Market to general membership
  • Manage registration
  • Provide onsite assistance
  • Absorb financial expense of conference

Leveraging the benefit of a technical meeting

Sending students to an IONS can be a hard sell for an Advisor, as research presented is not archived. By pairing IONS with our Congresses and partner meetings, we can solve this concern and help students obtain the funding they require from their universities to travel.

Chairs of the Congresses will play an integral part in the IONS conferences, too. The student committee will be provided access to the Chairs, using their expertise as a resource for building the program. We expect the chairs and other VIP attendees will be willing to serve as speakers during the IONS conference, but additional funding is reserved to invite additional experts as needed.

Tell me about the financials

Optica Foundation will cover 100% of the IONS program. This removes the requirement for students to fundraise/solicit additional support for the conference.. Funds have been dedicated for programming, catering, and social events for networking. Funding will also be provided to accommodate a one-night hotel stay on the day that the IONS occurs.

Students will be expected to cover the cost of Congress registration, transportation, lodging (outside of the night of the IONS), and all other expenses customarily incurred during a trip to a technical meeting. A limited amount of travel grant funding will be available.

Tell me about the program

First and foremost, you don’t need an accepted paper, but you DO need to be registered for the Congress to attend the IONS. When registering, you will have the option to select your participation in IONS. Only 50 slots per IONS are available.

The bulk of the program will occur the day before the Congress begins. Areas of emphasis include:

  • Introducing students to Congress chairs
  • Lecturers focused on career development
  • Networking opportunities
  • Opportunities to present your research in front of your peers (and with real-time feedback)

Throughout the Congress, the student committee will have determined a series of additional opportunities to connect, including potential tours of local labs/businesses as well as social events that highlight the culture of the surrounding area.

Funding for Chapter Regional events

In addition to the structural changes of IONS, we are increasing the amount of Special Program Grant funds for chapters looking to host similar regional events. Special Program Grants traditionally max out at $1.5K USD. However, chapters that want to host something of magnitude can qualify for funding up to $5K USD. The conference in question must:

  • Recognize Optica Foundation as a main sponsor if awarded with a grant
  • Be at least three days in length
  • Include:
    • Technical presentations from professionals and students
    • Professional development sessions
    • Industry-focused opportunities
    • Diversity and inclusion programming
    • Cultural exchange opportunities
      • Lab tours
      • Tours to showcase the city/culture
Image for keeping the session alive